As networks become increasingly complex, replacing or upgrading equipment is creating new challenges and pressures on in-house technical teams. No business can afford to encounter problems during an installation phase, as rectifying mistakes can be costly. Increasingly, businesses are looking to a specialist third party technical services partner to work with them on projects. Thereby leaving their own technical teams to focus on more high-level issues. The advantages are clear. Third-party technical teams can be called upon as required to provide a wide variety of services. These include surveys, audits, consultancy, project management, data migration, virtualisation and installation services.
Fixing network problems is disruptive. It takes up valuable in-house technical resource and diverts time away from more strategic tasks that could increase profit margins. This can be especially problematic when an organisation’s technical team is a small one. In addition, the skill-sets now required from engineers in order to complete these increasingly complex installations smoothly and without hitches are vast – and this may mean long, and costly, training sessions.
What should you look for when identifying a technical services partner?
Whilst this is not yet a ‘crowded’ market, there are more and more companies offering these services. So when faced with multiple options, all jostling for your custom, how do you differentiate between them? What should you look for when picking your technical services partner?
A business should consider whether their potential partner has done similar projects to the one they need completing. Also whether the engineers themselves are experienced – those who will be on the ‘front line’ need to have an adequate skill-set. Part of this means selecting a partner whose ethos is to employ engineers who are ‘all-rounders’ and don’t just work in one particular field. When on site, if there is an issue, it is these engineers who are best able to see the bigger picture, and not compartmentalise according to their one ‘speciality’.
2) Multi-vendor understanding
It is also important to have engineers who are well versed in dealing with a number of vendors. The industry is increasingly moving towards multi-vendor environments, and rightly so. A partner needs to be able to recommend the best products and solutions for a project, rather than being tied to a single-vendor. Or the dreaded ‘vendor lock-in’. It is therefore logical to partner with a technical services supplier that employs engineers with multi-vendor skill sets.
In fact, even if a customer does not currently operate a multi-vendor environment, it may still be beneficial to have a partner with wider, multi-vendor knowledge, as they will be able to suggest better, and often cheaper, alternatives for a particular scenario.
Many organisations will see professional services simply as another product. However, a key factor that sets apart an exceptional partner from the rest is one that sees it as a long-term solution. And which actively encourages a customer to be involved throughout the process. While it can seem like an easy, trouble-free solution to simply hand over an installation to a third party, a responsible partner will remember that ultimately everything will be handed back to the customer. They will want their customer to be armed with all the tools necessary to continue on once the professional services engineers have left the building.
In this endeavour, a good professional services provider will also look to offer bespoke, on-site training. With vendor supported or accredited courses. This will ensure that in-house engineers are self-sufficient and fully-prepared to deal with any small issues that may arise at a later date. Thus also helping to keep future costs down.
4) Pre-Staging and Configuration
It is also good to also have an effective technical operations side of things – not only to have the skills to install the equipment, but a partner which has the facilities to pre-stage and configure the equipment too – which can save a customer a lot of time and money.
Of course, using a technical services partner who has achieved the highest levels of vendor certification in the market is both the most obvious and the important qualification to look for in any service provider. Do not run the risk of using a less-certified partner. The cost may be less, but the quality will almost definitely be too.